This week’s conversation is with Harry Gregson-Williams, one of Hollywood’s most sought-after and prolific composers whose long list of film and television credits underscore the diverse range of his talents.

His recent projects include Warner Bros summer hit “The Meg” directed by Jon Turteltaub, and the action thriller “The Equalizer 2,” starring Denzel Washington.

He wrote the score for Disney Nature’s “Penguins,” which just opened a few weeks ago and will next score Disney’s live-action feature film “Mulan” scheduled for release in 2020.

Harry was the composer on all four installments of the animated blockbuster “Shrek” franchise, garnering a BAFTA Award nomination for the score for the Oscar-winning “Shrek.”

He also received Golden Globe and Grammy Award nominations for his score for Andrew Adamson’s “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.”

Harry has collaborated with a number of directors, including Ben Affleck on the films “Live by Night,” “The Town” and “Gone Baby Gone”; Joel Schumacher on “Twelve,” “The Number 23,” “Veronica Guerin” and “Phone Booth”; Tony Scott on “Unstoppable, The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3,” “Déjà Vu,” “Domino,” “Man on Fire,” “Spy Game” and “Enemy of the State”; Ridley Scott on “The Martian,” “Prometheus”, “Exodus: Gods and Kings and “Kingdom of Heaven” and the list goes on and on.

This was one my favorite conversations I’ve had since we started this podcast.

We covered so much: creativity, pressure, authenticity, relationships, failure, and emotion.

I hope this conversation makes you think a pay a little more attention to the score the next time you watch a movie.

“The best you can do is prepare yourself; prepare yourself in the obvious ways in whatever your craft is but also be prepared to see that an opportunity is actually an opportunity.”

In This Episode:

  • Is his professional life determined by his standards or by others?
  • Why being a film composer is about more than just producing great music; it’s about connecting with the director
  • What he learned from his mentor, Hans Zimmer
  • His early family structure… how it paved the way for his music career
  • Why he was sent off at age 6 to take part in an intensive music program at the University of Cambridge
  • His markers for success… how does he describe it?
  • The tension between mastering craft and mastering self
  • What Hans Zimmer taught him about being vulnerable
  • His creative process for meeting deadlines
  • How he deals with the thought, “Am I good enough to do this?”
  • Where his fire comes from
  • How he looks at failure
  • Why honesty is critical to excelling at his craft
  • What different emotions sound like to him
  • How he defines mastery
  • His advice to others: be open minded, prepared, and ready when opportunity strikes

 

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Quotables:

“When I was six or seven, I could read music better than I could read English.“

“I do think I’ve worked for and worked with a genius, definitely, and that would be Hans Zimmer. He’s an absolutely fascinating, intelligent, soulful, unique human being.”

“I’m a composer that’s not that predictable. I’ve got a bit of juice in me and I got a bit of fire in me, and I definitely can express emotions, both as a person and through my music.”

“Hans Zimmer showed me really early on that if your gonna stay and do this thing, it’s gonna be the relationships that you build that will get you through, that will allow you to endure.”

“I’m not rigid, I’m flexible. I think that’s a quality that’s necessary in the creative field.”

 

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Award-Winning Composer |

Harry Gregson-Williams is an English composer, orchestrator, conductor, and music producer. He has regularly written for video games, television and films.